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COB and STRAWBALE 9-day Immersion
September 12, 2015 @ 9:00 am - September 20, 2015 @ 2:00 pm Contact
When you leave this workshop, you will have the skills necessary to build your own natural home! We will be doing hands-on building mostly all day, every day. Techniques and concepts that are not covered in our hands-on work (permitting, utilities, etc…) will become our discussion topics. Some design decisions will be made as a group during the course, opening up all sorts of design discourse.
In this specific course, we will be constructing an addition onto our strawbale home here on the property. The home was built from 2013-2015, as time allowed. It is permitted, and about 90% of the walls are insulated with straw. It includes cob stairs, cob benches, earthen floors, and natural plasters throughout. Our family will be expanding from 3 to 4 people this December, and we would like to add a room that will function as a play space and sitting space, and also as a future area for home-schooling activities.
The new room will have a combination of the following wall systems:
– balecob (straw and cob in the same wall for thermal reasons)
– light straw-clay (also called “slip-straw”)
A unique experiment with the design of this addition is to use strawbales for the roof insulation as well. I have never tried this, but expect it to work well. We will be doing some framing with roundwood from our forest (i.e. big logs that we harvest, shave bark off, and notch for tight installation). The roof will have a rubber membrane on top, and a rooftop sitting area that can be accessed from the second story of our home. Foundation work is not something to rush in a workshop setting, so I will have the foundation prepared before we begin. However, we will dedicate time to a foundation discussion, and will experiment with hands-on stone-laying somewhere else on the property. There will probably not be hands-on experience with wiring, but I will be wiring the room at some point during the week, and everyone will be welcome to watch and ask questions.
Aside from the natural wall systems, you will learn:
– installing windows and doors (in cob and strawbale systems)
– earthen floor installation (we will not install the finish layer, but everything up through the finish layer)
– installing electrical boxes
– installing a low-slope, membrane-protected roof (the same system that would be used for a living/green roof, but will be for a roof-top patio in this case)
– how to detail an addition to an existing home
There is no way to predict our exact schedule. Each group is different (and each building, and each week of weather….). Here is a potential schedule to strive for:
Day 1: learn to mix and apply cob, begin to harvest and prepare posts/beams/rafters
Day 2: more cob, set corner posts and beams, start prepping for slip-straw/wattle and daub
Day 3: set rafters, install some windows, first course of bales, continue cob where needed
Day 4: Install bales in ceiling and get them covered!, more cob, more strawbale walls
Day 5: start applying cob on our “balecob” wall, roof decking, HOME TOUR!
Day 6: Install membrane on roof, start wattle-and-daub/straw-clay
Day 7: Finish all walls, start plastering some of them
Day 8: More plastering, start installing earthen floor
Day 9: Roof details, laying the earthen sub-floor layer, lime plaster experimentation
The workshop fee includes three meals a day, camp sites on the property, hot showers/toilets, and a really great home tour! We will have campfires as much as possible, and enjoy unscheduled evenings.
FOOD – We have a history of providing very delicious and wholesome food. Most of the produce is organically-grown and from within 10 miles. Most meals are vegetarian, with an occasional meat option. Within reason, we are happy to accommodate all dietary restrictions.
SLEEPING – There are some camp sites in the woods, and some by the pond. There are a couple that are big enough for really large tents. Alternatively, there is an almost-finished cob building available for staying in. It can accommodate 2 adults easily, and the cost is $80 for all 8 nights (the fee goes towards finishing materials for this building, and the other bunk-house). The bunk house is less finished, but is available to sleep in for $40 for the 8 nights. There are a couple other roofed spaces that can accommodate sleep, but are not closed off from bugs- these are free of charge.
SHOWERS/TOILET – We have a shower building with hot showers available – there is also a great swimming pond. We have two locations with composting toilets.
HOME TOUR – Mid-week, we will tour several local, natural homes. Expect to see at least three, and have plenty of time at each with the owner/builders; lots of questions are asked and answered.